Qantas cuts ties with Tourism Australia

Qantas, an Australia-based air carrier, said that it is cutting all of its ties with the official tourism agency in Australia.

It is believed that the move has been sparked by the deepening ill feeling between the current Qantas management and former chief executive, Geoff Dixon, who is now the chairman of Tourism Australia. The move will mean that the carrier will sever a 40-year old partnership with the tourism organisation.

In a statement, the company said that it had ‘suspended any future dealings’ with Australia’s official tourism agency. It went further and said, ‘Qantas cannot continue to collaborate with an agency whose chairman is a member of a syndicate committed to unravelling Qantas’s structure and direction.’

The airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, is believed to have written to Tourism minister, Martin Ferguson, stating that their $50m marketing deal was being suspended. Joyce however said that the company would continue to support the nation’s tourism operators. He said, ‘We deemed it prudent to suspend our partnership with Tourism Australia, we will of course continue to be a proud sponsor of tourism in Australia through other means. The tourism industry can be assured that not one dollar of tourism marketing will be lost as a result of this decision. We believe we are better off working with the states closely in terms of tourism activity. We are not pulling back on tourism support, we are working and have been working in the past with some states like Queensland, like Victoria, like NSW – all the states in the country.’

In a statement, Qantas said, ‘This conflict has arisen from the involvement of Tourism Australia’s chairman with a syndicate that is actively canvassing fundamental changes to the Qantas Group strategy, including the proposed partnership with Emirates.’

Deutsche Bahn to Delay London Service

Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail operator, will not be able to operate its train route between Germany and London St Pancras before 2016, according to a recent report.

The report by Spiegel Online suggests that the rail company is having technical issues with train constructor, Siemens, and may not be able to take delivery of the new high-speed ICE trains ordered in 2008. Deutsche Bahn also expects its existing services to be impacted in the winter, when the lack of new trains to replace those in for repair is likely to lengthen delays and cancellations.

Berthold Huber, the head of the German rail company, said, ‘Our customers feel as though they have been left in the lurch by Siemens. We had fully expected to have the new trains in reserve this winter to compensate for cancellations as a result of extreme weather.

You must remember that we ordered the trains in December 2008 and delivery was originally promised for last December.’

In October 2010, Deutsche Bahn, announced its high speed ICE (InterCity Express) train at St Pancras, and a scheduled service of three return journeys between Frankfurt and London, through Cologne, Brussels and Lille.

The journey time from London to Cologne was expected to take less than four hours, and around five hours for the journey from London to Frankfurt. Travel from Amsterdam to London was expected to take less than four hours on the new trains.

Deutsche Bahn has ordered 15 of the ICE trains from Siemens, which will have a maximum speed of 320kph (200mph), and will cost a total of €500 million.

However, delays to the project have resulted in disappointment for many. Michael Birtles, the managing director of European Rail, said, ‘The news has come as a disappointment. We thought the arrival of ICE in London would mean we would be offering our business customers a really competitive product between London, Cologne and Frankfurt.’

easyjet Launches Allocated Seating on Every Flight

easyJet, a UK based airline, has launched its allocated seating initiative on all of its flights from November 27, 2012.

In April of this year the airline completed trials for allocated seating, with around two million passengers opting for allocated seating on flights.

The allocated seating arrangement includes a priority boarding system for a minimum payment of £3 per person, and passengers that purchase Speedy Boarding are permitted to board the airplane first, followed by passengers requiring special assistance and families, after which all other passengers are allowed to board the aircraft.

The allocated seating is available for three price ranges; £12 for extra leg room in front row and exit seats, £8 for seats at the front, and £3 for any other seat.

Paul Simmons, the airline’s UK director, said, ‘Today’s move offering allocated seating on all of our flights is the single, biggest change the airline has undertaken in its history and an example of easyJet trying to do all it can to make travel easy and affordable for our passengers.

Our customers told us allocated seating was important to them and the extensive trial has delivered positive feedback across Europe.

Allocated seating provides a better boarding experience and gives passengers the added choice of selecting a seat for those who want to.

Thanks to a sophisticated algorithm, passengers who do not wish to pay to select their seat will be seated with the other passengers in their booking the majority of the time.

We are confident this move will not only make our current passengers happier when flying with easyJet but will also encourage new customers to choose to fly with us.’

Premier Inn Tests Noise Sensors to Monitor Noisy Guests

Premier Inn, a UK-based hotel brand from Whitbread PLC, is conducting a trial of noise sensors at some of its properties in order to monitor noisy guests and prevent them from disturbing others at night.

The sensors, named ‘Ssshhh-o-meters’, are being located close to the guestrooms and will light up when noise levels reach a specific decibel level. The initiative is part of the brand’s ‘Good Night Guarantee’ for its guests, promising them a peaceful night at its hotel properties.

The company chief executive officer, Andy Harrison, said, ‘We asked our teams to come up with ideas about how we could reduce noise from other customers and they came up with some really novel innovations.

We’ve also introduced what we’re calling ‘ssshhh-o-meters’. They work a bit like a speedometer sign but positioned in a corridor and they light up when the noise reaches a certain decibel level, gently reminding people to keep the noise down.

It might seem like a bit of fun but it’s actually addressing a very real business challenge. Because we offer a money back guarantee it sharpens our focus on making sure we do everything we can to offer our guests a good night’s sleep.’

The brand is offering room nights priced at £29 for the winter season, for popular locations that include Exeter, Bournemouth, Liverpool, York and others in the UK. For an extra of £22.99 per person, the hotel brand is also offering a three-course meal, a choice of drinks, and a Premier breakfast the next day.

The brand has around 600 hotels across the UK and Ireland, and recently won the Best Leisure Hotel Chain award at the British Travel Awards 2012.